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4 Apr, 2024 10:51

Ukraine’s top brass believe Western F-16s no longer relevant – Politico

Russia’s military has already been testing countermeasures against the fighter jets, the outlet reported
Ukraine’s top brass believe Western F-16s no longer relevant – Politico

There may be little value in Ukraine deploying Western F-16 fighter jets because Russia has already taken measures to counter them, Ukrainian military officials have told Politico.

Speaking to the outlet on the condition of anonymity, the officials complained that decisions by the US and its allies to provide new military capabilities to Kiev often come too late. The F-16s are an example of systems that “come when they’re no longer relevant,” according to one official.

“Every weapon has its own right time. F-16s were needed in 2023; they won’t be right for 2024,” he said.

The official explained that in recent months Russian forces had been launching long-range anti-aircraft missiles from Crimea but without explosive payloads. The Ukrainians were initially puzzled by this but subsequently realized that it was an exercise in range-finding in order to determine the optimal placement of its S-400 radars and batteries to target the F-16s and keep them at bay, he explained.

The Politico sources had served under Valery Zaluzhny, the former top general in the Ukrainian armed forces, who was removed by President Vladimir Zelensky in February after a public disagreement on the feasibility of continued attempts to retake territory. In a keynote article he wrote for The Economist last year, Zaluzhny said that without a radical breakthrough in military technology on the scale of the invention of gunpowder the conflict would turn into a war of attrition.

“Zaluzhny used to call it ‘the War of One Chance,’” one of his officers told Politico about the general’s thinking about arms quickly becoming outdated.

For example, we used Storm Shadow and SCALP cruise missiles – but just for a short time. The Russians are always studying. They don’t give us a second chance.

The officer was referring to the air-launched weapons given to Ukraine by the UK and France.

The sources who spoke to Politico criticized the replacement of their ex-boss, General Aleksandr Syrsky, who claimed last week that a reassessment of personnel needs by the army allows it to drastically reduce the target for mobilization. Zaluzhny had said that as many as 500,000 men needed to be conscripted, a statement that elicited a rebuke from the president. The senior officers said Syrsky was “playing along with narratives from politicians.”